TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Eleven mayors from two countries gathered in Naco Friday for what has become a semimonthly gathering to discuss what they all want and how they can get it.
"We're so far from both capitals, Mexico City and Washington. So, sometimes, we're forgotten, we feel, out here. That can be good. That can be bad," said Bisbee mayor Adriana Badal. "It's all about economic opportunities and economic development."
One way is to boost tourism. Mexican cities such as Cananea can help promote U.S. destinations while Arizona locations like Bisbee and Tombstone can encourage tourism to Mexico by helping tourists overcome uncertainty and offer group trips there.
"Go shopping there, go to the beaches there, go to the Rio Sonora area, and then, as they develop their comfort level, they can go on their own or take their friends and family."
"We have a lot of people in Cananea that go visit from Mexico, so we want to show them that, here in Arizona, they have many things to know and show," said Cananea mayor Francisco Tarazon. "Arizona is a nice place to visit, and we're making this effort together."
But efforts to secure the border can discourage crossing it. Congressman Ron Barber said that while improved enforcement must be part of immigration reform, better infrastructure and staffing at ports of entry to reduce wait times for tourists and commercial shipping must also be included.
"We can be an even greater import/export state if we just improve how we allow people to come here and expedite their entrance into the country," Barber said.